Indian Whisky Brand Champions 2013

8th July, 2013 by SB Staff Writer

INDIAN WHISKY BRAND CHAMPION: IMPERIAL BLUE

indian whiskyImperial Blue is one of Pernod Ricard’s 18 key local spirits brands, and is its second biggest-selling whisky in India. Its official name is Seagram’s Imperial Blue – a reference to its previous owner.

By the time Seagram’s was sold to Pernod and Diageo in 2001, it had built a solid business with its Indian whiskies. In those days Scotch was effectively barred from India with import tariffs running at 750%. Today the figure stands at 150%.

In the carve-up of brands which followed the sale, Pernod acquired the entire Seagram’s India portfolio including Royal Stag which is now the country’s third most popular whisky with sales of 14m cases. Yet of all the brands, Imperial Blue has benefited the most from the Pernod acquisition, growing from half a million cases in 2000 to over a million by 2002.

Six years later it hit the headlines when some bottles in Andhra Pradesh were found to be under-strength. It was later discovered they had been sabotaged by disgruntled workers. The whisky is a blend of Indian grain spirit and malt whisky shipped from Scotland. Priced at a premium to brands like Officer’s Choice and Bagpiper, and with more contemporary packaging, it claims to be India’s number three deluxe whisky.

While spirits advertising has been banned in India except in cinemas, Imperial Blue has been adept at finding ways round the rules.The brand is a past master in surrogate advertising (also officially banned) using clothing, soft drinks and music CDs to promote the brand. This is common practice with Indian whiskies tending to focus on their tagline rather than the drink itself. For example the words ‘No.1 Spirit of Leadership’ are splashed across hoardings at all the country’s major cricket grounds. Everyone knows that it’s a reference to McDowell’s No.1 whisky.

Imperial Blue recently went one further, and in 2011 commissioned a full-length 90-minute film called ‘Men Will Be Men’ – the brand’s tagline. The movie was said to be “a slice of life story about four young adult males” – the target audience for the brand, and featured popular Indian TV stars.

Pernod’s success in India is not built on its Scotch brands like Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s, but on its Indian whiskies which have grown from one million cases in 2000 to over 25m today. Vijay Mallya’s giant United Spirits – the largest spirits company in the world – may sell five times as much whisky, but its margins are way lower. According to a recent report in The Economic Times of Indiaits average case price was Rs720 (£8.50) compared to Rs1,760 for Pernod Ricard.

Raising prices will be a key priority for Diageo as it assumes control of United Spirits, and it will be interesting to see whether volumes can be maintained at the same time. However, everything is bound to change if and when the wall of import tariffs comes down

 

INDIAN WHISKY
BRAND OWNER 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 % +/-
McDowell’s No.1 Reserve United Spirits 13.4 13.5 14.3 16.1 19.5 21%
Officer’s Choice A.B.D 6.7 11.1 11.6 16.5 18.1 10%
Royal Stag Pernod Ricard 6.8 8.4 10.4 12.5 14 12%
Bagpiper United Spirits 15.4 16.3 16.4 16 14 -13%
Old Tavern United Spirits 4.8 6.8 9 11 11.6 5%
Original Choice John Distilleries 8.8 10.2 10.9 10.7 10.9 2%
Imperial Blue Pernod Ricard 3.8 4.8 6.1 7.2 8.8 22%
Hayward’s Fine United Spirits 2.8 4.1 4.7 6.2 7.1 15%
8PM Radico Khaitan 3.2 3.6 3.9 4.3 4.9 14%
Director’s Special United Spirits 4 4.4 4.5 4.5 4.3 -4%
Blenders Pride Pernod Ricard 1.9 2.3 2.8 3.5 4 14%
Gold Riband United Spirits 1.8 2.7 2.3 3.1 3.5 13%
McDowell’s Green Label United Spirits  – 2 2.5 2.9 3.3 14%
Director’s Special Black United Spirits 1.8 2 2.9 2.9 2.9 0%
Signature Rare Aged Whisky United Spirits ₋– 1.1 1.3 1.6 1.8 13%
Royal Challenge United Spirits 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.7 21%
Men’s Club United Spirits  – 0.6 0.8 1.1 1.2 9%

 

SEE OTHER CATEGORIES
GIN LIQUEURS
SCOTCH WHISKY WORLD WHISKIES RUM
TEQUILA VODKA INDIAN WHISKY
SPECIALITIES

 

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Jack Daniel's creates branded vintage motorcycle

Jack Daniel’s has teamed up with Indian Motorcycle to create a limited more...

Bacardi files FOI request in Havana Club dispute

Bacardi is seeking Freedom of Information Act details from the US government more...

Diageo will 'contest vigorously' Mallya joint venture claim

United Spirits chairman Vijay Mallya has accused Diageo of failing to establish more...

Top 10 spirit launches in January 2016

The New Year kicked off with the launch of a highly anticipated Japanese more...

Pernod Ricard buys majority stake in Monkey 47

French drinks group Pernod Ricard has acquired a majority stake in German gin more...

Scotch and baijiu among 'most valuable' brands

Two spirits brands have appeared in the new Global 500 list that counts down more...

Loch Lomond Scotch whiskies set for US debut

Independent distiller and blender, Loch Lomond, will enter the US market more...

SWA meets with Treasury over tax 'burden'

Representatives from Scotch Whisky Association have met with the UK Treasury to more...

Top 10 most investible Scotch brands 2015

Liquid from silent distilleries makes up seven of the 10 most investible Scotch more...

Oban Little Bay NAS Scotch to launch in UK

Oban Distillery is readying to launch its no-age-statement Little Bay Scotch more...

Speyside Distillers secures £2.3m for expansion

Speyside Distillers Company, whose global ambassador is retired footballer more...

Market for rare whisky 'exceeds all forecasts'

The rare whisky market experienced a “record” year in 2015, with the value more...

Sobieski launches 'rare' Dankowski rye vodka

Imperial Brands-owned Sobieski Vodka has launched an expression made using 100% more...

WSTA calls for further 2% spirits duty cut

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) has ramped up its lobbying more...

Malibu introduces Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pernod Ricard-owned rum Malibu has expanded its Malibu Sensations portfolio more...

Douglas Laing rebrands Provenance range

Douglas Laing has unveiled new packaging for its Provenance Single Cask Scotch more...

Teeling raises €5m for Great Northern Distillery

John Teeling's Irish Whiskey Company has ditched equity sale plans after more...

New whisky cask investment scheme launches

Rare and collectible whisky specialist Fairfax Whisky has launched a cask more...

The week in pictures

Burns Night celebrations, cocktail competition finals, a surprise spirits more...

SMWS partners with Few Spirits for new Bourbon

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) has launched a three-year-old single cask more...